Baliktanaw: Le Graphique Manille 2016

Saturday – Sunday
January 30-31, 2016

I think my most valuable learning from the event was that a lot of creatives like to color their hair (mostly blonde and blue). But I got other insights and lessons as well. Read on!

I was recently given the privilege to attend Graphika Manila, one of the most prestigious design conferences in the country. I’ve been meaning to attend this event since 2010, but with me being me, I procrastinated through the years.

But since it was already 2016 (which I personally labeled as my “year of redemption™”), I decide to be more proactive and finally attend this event. Just kidding, it was paid for by my company.

So there I was, early in the morning, riding a bus to Asia’s Mall. Arriving early, I had a quick breakfast at the local Jollibee before making my way to the SMX Convention building. Lacking basic navigational skills, I got lost and wandered for 20 minutes before finally arriving at the entrance. How I can miss a big building like the SMX is beyond even my comprehension.

Replace “kitchen” with “SMX” and this is literally what happened

After finding the venue, I met up with my boss and waited for the start of the event while rummaging through the conference kit (a fancy term for a loot bag) which contained a lot of goodies like stickers, and a cute earphone jack plug.

Kyootz Lootz
Kyootz Lootz

Finally, it started! I won’t bother writing down every detail because, frankly, that would take forever. And I don’t think I really need to. Because although each speaker had their own unique presentations, most (if not all) had the same messages to convey to us, fresh creatives. I’m gonna try to explain each lesson I learned from the seminar.

Create lots of work

This. There really is no secret to success but hard work. Valerie Chua says that “you can make ideas out of anything,” and “no mater how much knowledge you have, if you don’t put it into practice, it’s never gonna work.”

Funny-man and marvelous comic book artist Harvey Tolibao says that you should always put your ideas to paper. Execution is the key. Not everything you create has to be good. Accept criticism and help it make you better.

Out of ideas? Simone Legno of Tokidoki fame says to find inspiration in other people. He says that he collects everything as inspiration and it shows in his work, which is a mixture of all the different cultures and happenings in his life.

Never be afraid of failure. Matthew Encina says to “start before you’re ready,” while rockstar designer Timothy Goodman says to “never be paralyzed by maybes.” Tosh Kodama reminds us that the first idea isn’t always the best but with time and repetition, ideas always get better.

The last thing is to showcase your works. Luke Choice aka Velvet Spectrum credits Instagram for making a huge impact to his career. In fact, a lot of the other speakers credit Instagram and other social media for giving them clients! So make a lot of work, and get your work out there into the public.

Don’t neglect your Personal Projects

Simone Legno says that passion is the biggest thing when it comes to designing and I have to agree on this. Without passion, there won’t be much internal motivation to keep you creating for long.

But sometimes, all the work can take the passion out of it, which is why the speakers remind us to never forget our personal-driven works. These so-called “passion projects” are a break from commissioned works. Plus, I think that work we want to do will always be a wee bit better than work we are paid to do.

On a related note, create work you wana be commissioned to do. Velvet Spectrum started out as just a bunch of Luke’s personal projects until his style was picked up by other people and clients started commissioning him for other projects. Patrick Cabral says to never give up on an idea because “sometimes, even just a small project will give you a big break.”

This strategy makes sense because imagine working on your personal projects but being paid to do it. It’s a win-win situation all around! Si Scott puts it really simply, “do what you like and if other people like it, that’s a bonus.”

Have Fun!

Last but definitely not least. Along with passion, having fun is one of the most important motivators for doing something. This is even more essential for creatives who put a lot of time and themselves into their projects.

Timothy Goodman creates projects that are just out of this world and takes pride on whatever he can get away with. Indeed he emphasizes the saying “don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.” 

Vault 49 design studio says that “they take their work seriously, but they don’t take themselves seriously.” This can be seen by their amazingly playful company office and having team-building outings regularly. Indeed, having fun is one of the best ways to keep a creative passionate and inspired.

Gemma O’Brien says to “do what you love and hope people pay you to do things like them,” which is, I guess, what every creative wishes to do. Enjoying what you do is pretty much essential in the long run.

And these have been the lessons I burned into my heart during the seminar. I’ve said this before, but I haven’t been producing as much work as I wanted since focusing on my fitness endeavors. Graphika Manila was an eye-opener for me. A wake up reminder, if you may.

This was just the right amount of push, inspiration, and motivation for me to once again get back to the drawing board. So here’s to a hopefully creative season ahead!



p.s. Congratulations and thank you to all the organizers of Graphika Manila 2016! It was a blast and I hope I can attend the future installments.


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